They say that time’s a healer. The cliche that had me dreaming of squeezing a bunch of lemons over the paper cut of that "philosophers" hand. Does that make me a horrible person? I’m sure you’ve had that thought at some point too, haven’t you?
To me, time’s not so much a healer as opposed to a common misconception. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that time is a useless thing, especially when we’re talking break-ups – but it’s not what made me come to terms with mine. Travelling did. Not only did it heal me, but it changed me.
There were four stages of my break-up. I’m sure most of you have been here with me at some point. Stage one was the teenage drama queen, the ‘my life as I know it is over’ stage.
I’d hope I’m not the only one who mistakenly thought eating ice cream whilst watching Bridget Jones in your pyjamas was a fantastic idea. The resemblance was uncanny – I think I even made fun of myself and snapped a picture of me next to dear Bridget. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?!
Next came stage two – denial. This will more than likely end with you having one of those embarrassing moments where all hope is crushed as you sit sobbing into your enchilada across the table from him, until a waiter pops a box of tissues down next to you.
You’ll want to crawl under a rock and wither away…but don’t, as just around the corner is stage 3 – the turning point.
You’ll realise that maybe you don’t need him; that wanting and needing are two different things. We were meant to be going to Indonesia together, and we went – even sitting awkwardly next to one another on one of the plane legs until he got bumped up to business. Oh how the world can be cruel at times! We parted ways after baggage claim and then I was left to my own devices.
Up until now, he was the ambitious one, full of dreams with the adventurous soul. Not me. I had debated not going to Indonesia for a short while, but I didn’t want him to take anything else from me, I’m not even sure there was anything left to take – I was a shell of myself. Two hours later, my friend and I were sat drinking happy hour cocktails at our hotel and self-reflection hit. Having my heart stomped on for the last time had me telling myself that I didn’t need him to encourage me to dream big, try new things or to be my strength. I didn’t have to be a girl with no ambition, no drive and no self-confidence – I could do more than just exist. I think it’s safe to definitely blame happy hour for my newly adopted bout of confidence, but I decided to roll with it.
I found myself agreeing to things and doing things I’d usually have to be tricked into. As a girl who’s scared of the sea, sleeping on a boat for 4 days was an unsettling thought. I wasn’t a strong swimmer – I’d rather sit on a beach where I can swim as far as I could stand up. Besides, sharks. SHARKS! You can probably tell I’m a bit of a wimp but in my defence, neither youtube, films nor National Geographic have done anything to help ease the fear.
Yet despite this, I held onto my new found self-reflection - I don’t have to just exist. And I wouldn’t. I was jumping, or being dragged (depending on who you ask) into the sea to swim with the most majestic manta rays. The point? Whether dragged in or not, I still did it.
I hiked Komodo Island, snorkelled on beautiful beaches, slept on boats and started thinking of my next adventure. For most this isn’t a big thing, but I’m a girl who likes her material things, make-up, hair straighteners and toilets that flush to name a few! A girl whose only ambition was to make someone else happy. Despite my love for comfort, I found myself steering away from my comfort zone out of personal want – and it excited me! In that moment I fell in love with exploring and the idea of challenging myself. I didn’t need him anymore. I didn’t even want him. I wanted adventure. I wanted to travel. And there we have it, stage four – the stronger, ambitious and Independent stage.
A year ago, I’d never have thought that in four months from now, I’d be climbing Kilimanjaro – camping and hiking in the cold. I hate the cold and the closest thing I’ve ever got to climbing a mountain is hiking up the hills of Flores in Indonesia. But the challenge is enticing. While we’re on the topic of challenges I should probably mention my next – the mammoth undertaking of the Appalachian Trail, money dependent. I’ll need to save so I can afford to take 6-7 months off while I attempt to hike from Georgia to Maine. It will happen though, even if it’s years down the line.
So there we have it, the point to me blabbering on about my heartache – travel helped me come to terms with my break-up. If I hadn’t gone to Indonesia, I’d probably still be a complete mess wallowing in my own self-pity whilst refusing to move forward while everyone and everything in the world moved on.
I implore anyone who’s going through a break-up to put on your walking boots, throw a smile on that pretty face and step outside. The destination doesn’t matter. Be brave and be bold. You’ll be ok - you’ll see.
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